News

May 28, 2024

FG pledges more support for local airline operators

FG pledges more support for local airline operators

Minister of Aviation, Festus Keyamo

The Federal Government has pledged to offer more assistance to local airline operators to create an enabling environment and ease of operations.

Mr Festus Keyamo, Minister of Aviation and Aerospace, made this known when he presented his master card at the ministerial news briefing on the administration of President Bola Tinubu’s sectoral update.

According to him, the government will support and empower all local airline operators, as it did with Air Peace, to enable them to compete with other international airlines.

The minister said the government would also facilitate the acquisition of aircraft under dry lease agreement, which he said was cheaper compared with a wet lease.

Keyamo affirmed that the government had planned to review the nation`s Bilateral Air Service Agreements (BASA) to favour local operators.

He said the government was making conscious and gradual efforts towards embracing eco-friendly practices and green technologies in line with International Civil Aviation Organisation’s (ICAO) long-term global aspirational goal of net-zero carbon emissions in the aviation sector.

“We are rehabilitating some Airports/Airstrips, enhancing collaboration with state governments to improve state airport infrastructure and training and re-training aviation professionals (accident investigators, pilots, and air traffic controllers),“ he added.

On the establishment of the Maintenance, Repair, and Overhaul (MRO) Centre, Keyamo said the federal government was in an advanced stage of discussions with investors across the world who would collaborate through Public Private Partnership (PPP).

He disclosed that the Minister of Federal Capital Territory, Mr Nyesom Wike, had successfully resolved a longstanding land dispute that had hindered construction of the Abuja second runway within two weeks of assuming office.

The minister added that with the development, contractors had commenced work on the project, which had been stalled for over a year.

The minister said he had relocated all international airlines to the new international terminal in Lagos to address design flaws that had previously rendered the facility unusable for many international flights.

Keyamo said the relocation and remodelling of arrival hall at Lagos airport, done with active collaboration and support from the Ministry of Interior through a public-private partnership arrangement, had enhanced smooth operation of the terminal.

The Minister said he facilitated the swift repair and reactivation of Lagos’ second runway (18R), which had been out of service for nearly a year.

He said the operation of the two Lagos airport’s runways had increased efficiency and reduced congestion.

Keyamo said he worked closely with the Central Bank of Nigeria to ensure clearance of the longstanding backlog of trapped funds for foreign airlines.

“By actively engaging the UK authorities on the reciprocal rights under our BASA, I successfully broke the long-standing monopoly of foreign airlines on the UK-Nigeria route.

“This led to the granting of reciprocal operating rights to Air Peace, a local airline, resulting in increased competition and reduced international airfares for Nigerian travellers.

“This allows liberalised air transport commercial activities without any restrictions as to routes and capacity, among others,” he said.

The minister said the “United States-Nigeria Open Skies Air Transport Agreement“ came into force under his watch.

He added that the significant milestone opened doors for local airlines to operate the route, promoting increased connectivity and trade between the two countries.

Keyamo said he successfully facilitated the resumption of Emirates flights through diplomatic efforts coordinated with United Arab Emirate authorities to strengthen air travel connectivity between Nigeria and the UAE.

The minister said there was a plan in place for the development of a master plan for the nation’s major airports to transform them into proper hubs and metropolises. (NAN)